What Strengthens Your Sense of Place and Community Pride?

Why People Love Where They Live

It’s a happy part of our culture here in western Massachusetts to celebrate all of the things that make our communities so wonderful. We’re constantly celebrating everything from cultural heritage to local food to beautiful landscapes, and it’s easy to identify all of the things that make us love our homes (check out our archived Mash Notes to Paradise posts to see some serious community appreciation). Difficult though it may be to imagine living anywhere else, folks from around the country love their homes just as much as we love ours, and the reasons for their affinity for their communities are as interesting and geographically specific as ours are right here in Massachusetts!

Families can discover the magic within communities across the continent by listening to an archived post of the Hilltown Family Variety Show titled, On the Road. Featuring guest DJ Steve Weeks, the episode features geographically-themed songs alongside brief interviews taped during Weeks’ summer travels all over the United States and Canada. Each interview features information about what makes a particular community special, as told through the perspective of a community member. Interviews come from people in maritime Canada, Las Vegas, New Orleans, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Dakotas, southern California, and other unique locales. Covering nearly all of the corners of the country (and a bonus international location), the episode showcases the wonderful aspects of local culture that are unique to each of the featured locations.

Appealing even to adults, the episode manages to convey the international phenomenon of human love for our homelands – a true understanding and appreciation of the places in which we live, both with respect to culture and human-generated aspects of life, and the beautiful and magical natural surroundings as well. Families may even be inspired to visit some of the locations featured after hearing about the things that make each place so wonderful. Families in Las Vegas enjoy movie theaters in their public libraries and easy access to desert landscapes, while folks in southern California can experience a night on the beach and view interesting public art every single day. Each and every place in the episode (and those that aren’t featured, too) has something wonderful to offer, and residents do an excellent job of sharing those things with listeners.

Teachers can use this episode in their classroom to learn about communities and culture in other parts of the country. New Orleans elementary teacher, Celeste Lousteau, did just that, having her students plot out each interview on a map of the United States. (Photo credit: Celeste Lousteau)

Families can use the episode to spark studies of the regions of the United States, using each interview as a catalyst for studies of a specific place. Learning about Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans might, for example, spark studies of the history of Mardi Gras and its roots in the city’s history. The mention of the Hoover Dam in a Las Vegas interview may inspire families to learn about the dam’s place in American history and its role in the development of the southwest. A Montana resident’s description of the role of Native American culture in his community could lead families into an exploration of Native American cultures in the Rocky Mountain states.

Before learning about far away places worth loving, make your very own family list of things that you enjoy and appreciate about your own community. When you learn about other locations, see if the places that seem most interesting to you share any similarities with your own home. Comparing and contrasting the special aspects of places can lead to interesting discoveries about the geographic, historic, and socioeconomic reasons for the presence of each special feature in the community it comes from.

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